Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why I Love My Neighborhood, Thankfulness, and Choose Joy

We live in a city that lies almost exactly halfway between Orlando and Daytona Beach. It is a city. Smooshed between other cities. 15 minutes drive and I can be at one mall, or in another direction a different mall. I can give directions to 4 different Wal-Marts that are all between 15-20 minutes away, each in a different direction. I couldn't even tell you how many grocery stores or shopping centers or McDonalds surround us. There's too many!
BUT the neighborhood we live in, the very same one I grew up in and moved so very many miles away from and back, is like a slice of the country hiding away amongst the traffic lights and big businesses.
A walk down our road is like being in a different world entirely than what is just a mile away from the neighborhood.

A twisted, arched tree... maybe the entrance to a Fairy Realm?
Barns. A plethora of trees. Horse stalls. And tucked away, a river.

A view of the river. It keeps stretching in either direction...for miles!

You can see horses and cows owned by different people that live down here.

Moo! "More! MOOOOO!" Says my little girl. She wanted to pet the cows.

But she did not want to pet this beautiful guy. Silly girl.

I am very thankful for all the beauty that surrounds us.
And the fruit that naturally grows in abundance.

Sweet, delicious kumquats.
All pictures were taken with my phone while taking a walk with my toddler, so please excuse the lack of quality.

I'm so glad my family gets to enjoy this beauty year-round. That we get to have a breath of fresh air (literally!) amongst all the traffic. I'm thankful for our health, welbeing, and a roof over our heads. We do not have much money, but we do have 3 meals a day, and love for each other. I have a husband that works extremely hard while still going to school. Honestly, sometimes it's almost like I'm raising our girls on my own right now. He will leave the house early in the morning to go to school, come home around lunch time, then leave only a couple hours later to go to work. He doesn't get home until late (early!!), and at times he doesn't get to see our children for more than a few minutes in a day. Sunday is his day off. No work, no school. It's spent with his family - usually while we run errands. But I'm very thankful for the time we do get to spend together.

I'm thankful that my parents have let us live here while we go through all of this....Both of us in school off and on. It's like we're taking turns, without really meaning to! That just so happens to be the way the school schedules have worked out so far. And I'm thankful that they have. It has meant that we have not needed daycare or after school care.

I'm thankful that the universe has granted us these amazing children to love and care for. And I am oh so thankful for their health. There are issues our youngest has that have to be dealt with, but so far they have been very mild and minor compared to what they COULD have been. She is truly amazing. One of these days I'll share the story of her life to date here. And our other two are equally as amazing. Extremely intelligent, talented, and beautiful. And I'm not just saying that because I'm the mama. ;-)

I know Thanksgiving has already passed, but I try to make note of what I'm thankful for every few days. Even if it's only mentally. This mental note of what I'm thankful for really started about 1.5 years ago because of our youngest daughter, but a great reminder of how blessed we are is reading about Ashley of Lil Blue Boo. Her frequent updates on what has gone on in her life the last few months help to keep perspective in my own life. It's not easy to keep that perspective. So I'm also thankful that she keeps us all updated so often and reminds us to always Choose Joy.
And finally, I'm thankful to my readers. Right now there aren't many, but I'm glad I have any at all! I truly enjoy reading the comments you guys leave.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Super Simple Holiday Wreath

I have made many crafts throughout the last few decades. Often with things that can easily be found around the house. Why? Because growing up those were the supplies my mom gave me to use. If it was not necessary for something, or it was going to go in the garbage anyway, I could use it!
Some of the things I've used many times over the years? Toilet paper tubes and paper towel tubes. They are very handy and versatile.
I saw this blog posting about a pretty wreath made using tubes, and I had to do something like it with my kids! Well, at least the 10 year old...wreath making is a little advanced for a toddler. ;-)

Supplies needed:
1 toilet paper tube
1 paper towel tube
duct tape
decorations from the dollar store
an image you want to use
whatever other decorating items you want

Total amount of money I spent on this project: $4.

Start by putting strips of duct tape down the length of the tubes. Make the tape longer than the tubes by a couple inches.

Smooth the tape down and tuck the ends inside the tube.

Overlap each new piece of tape you put on by about 1/2" to make sure there is no tube showing through. Once the entire thing is covered on the outside cut it open along one of the tape edges. I say cut it open AFTER it's all tape on the outside so that the tube is more solid and stable while taping it up. If you cut it open before then the tube would get too weakened and creased.

Now tape up the inside of the tube. Make sure to cover the parts that were smoothed down on the inside earlier. Don't worry about the very edges along where you cut it open. It's ok if there is a small 1/4" or so gap along the edge.

Cut off the excess tape at the edge, don't wrap it over to the other side this time. Once both tubes are wholey covered cut them into (roughly) 1/2" - 3/4" strips going WITH the curve. Along the "shorter" side if you're looking at the tube's dimensions.

Don't worry if the strips aren't all precisely even or 100% straight. As long as they are close it's OK! Form a circle with two of the strips and tape them together where they are cut apart. Use a small strip of duct tape approximately 1/2" wide and wrap it around the two pieces so that they are closed and connected. Continue attaching all the rest of the strips to what you have started until you've made a wreath type shape. Add a strip to one of the rings in a wide arc. This will be the top of the wreath and what you use to hang it with.

Add on your fun decorations from the dollar store. I bought some dimensional, tri-layered snow flakes that I cut apart to use in pieces.

You can use a hot-glue gun to glue the pieces on, or E6000 (my typical choice in glue!). Add on as much or as little as you want. I added a beautiful girl from Saturated Canary that I had my daughter help me color in. Then once it was ready to put on I ended up adding some perfectly matching polka dots onto the green - using a green nail polish I had. It was not intentional to match the nail polish, but I think it worked out in my favor! I love the texture it end up giving!

I added a clear snowflake that has very subtle sparkles to the wreath, partially on top of the picture.

See the little snow flake above the girl? I had to prop it up while the glue dried. :-) I hope you have fun making this!

Linked up here:

Friday, November 25, 2011

Ricotta and Blueberry Pancakes

I took this recipe straight from Food and Wine website. They are truly the most delicious blueberry pancakes I've ever had. Follow the recipe exactly how it's laid out and you will NOT be sorry! SO very yummy good!
I don't have any pictures of them getting made, or on a plate. Mostly because while they are getting made I'm too busy and once they hit a plate they are gone!

Food & Wine

Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberries

Adding fresh ricotta to the batter makes these pancakes incredibly moist and light.


    1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    2. 1 teaspoon baking powder
    3. 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
    4. 3 large eggs, separated
    5. 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons milk
    6. 6 ounces ricotta cheese (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
    7. 1/4 cup sugar
    8. 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
    9. Unsalted butter, for the griddle
    10. 1 pint fresh blueberries or 2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
    11. Pure maple syrup, for serving


  1. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the milk, ricotta, sugar and vanilla. Add the dry ingredients and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until frothy. Beat at high speed until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain.
  3. Preheat the oven to 225°. Heat a griddle, then lightly butter it. For each pancake, ladle a scant 1/4 cup of the batter onto the griddle; be sure to leave enough space between the pancakes. Cook over moderately low heat until the bottoms are golden and the pancakes are just beginning to set, 1 to 2 minutes. Sprinkle each pancake with a few blueberries and press lightly. Flip the pancakes and cook until golden on the bottom and cooked through, about 1 minute longer. Transfer the pancakes to plates and keep them warm in the oven while you make the rest. Serve the pancakes with maple syrup.

Make Ahead

The batter can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature and whisk briefly before cooking.

I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Cute Little Girl Hooded Dress

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! I hope your day is filled with joy, family, friends, and deliciousness! Here is a little something I've been brewing up!

I absolutely love the artwork by Krista from Saturated Canary. Her girls (and boys!) are gorgeous. And the possibilities with them are endless! Seriously. She originally made these with making cards in mind...I bet she never guessed I would make a dress (or two!) based off of them! :-D I plan to make more custom girls dresses too.

Every little girl needs her own phone, didn't you know?!

The girl I used on this dress is Frizzy Jynx. With her wild curly hair and attitude she immediately called out to me as being perfect for my little girl. ...Believe me when I say it takes work to tame my daughters curly hair! In the morning when she wakes up AND after her nap in the middle of the day I have to do her hair because it becomes wild and unruly.

I used puffy paint to paint in the polka dots on the headband, and the heart on the jacket, although that one is much harder to see.

The dress has a hood with ruffles around the edges, multiple layers on the skirt, ruffles at the bottom of the sleeves, and a kangaroo pocket. It's perfect for hiding little treasures in.

The skirt layers are like petals. The scoop down on the sides and come up higher in the middle of the front and back.

I'm very pleased with how this dress turned out! It's so sweet and fun. Full of things thrown together unexpectedly and turning out to be so cute in the end. Thank you Krista for your amazing artwork! You too can find her beauties in her Etsy shop. Linked up here:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A Very Fancy Nancy Dress-up Flower Belt for only $4.

***WARNING: This post contains MANY PICTURES!!***

My toddler is in love with Fancy Nancy. I have the only four Fancy Nancy books we own (two actual books, two on my iPhone) memorized. I could recite them verbatim for you if you wanted! (But I don't think you want me to...really!)
So for Christmas this year I am making her some Fancy Nancy inspired items. One of which is this fun ribbon and flower belt! Total cost: $4.

Inspired by this picture:

Dollar store ribbon - 5 yard spool (I used grosgrain so that if the ribbon flipped around it would look exactly the same on the opposite side)
Dollar store flowers (3 bunches of them)
Plus some things I already had on hand: glue, thread, needle, plastic beads, and plastic rhinestones.

First tie the ribbon around the child that you want to make the belt for (or a child of similar size). And measure how long you want it to hang.

Then cut off the ribbon after adding about an inch to how long you want it. Next measure out how long you want each of the ribbons that will hang down to be, and again add an inch before cutting.

Cut several more ribbons the same length as the one you measured to hang down. At least 6, probably more! How many you cut depends on how many inches your child is around their waist and how "full" you want it to look when it hangs down.
Then lay cut pieces out. Start with the long around the waist piece, then in the center lay a cut piece, then at each end lay another cut piece just before where it would be tied. After that just play with the spacing until you get it how you like it.

Pull the flowers off of the stems, and then pull the flowers apart so that there are no plastic parts left in them.

Take one of the hanging ribbons and sew the flower onto the end using the bead in the center as a hole cover and anchor for the flower. You only need to go through a few times to have it secure if you use the thread doubled over.

Add a little dot of glue on the other end of the ribbon on the same side that the flower is on (the FRONT side). Turn the ribbon over to put the area with glue onto the ribbon for the waist.

Put a little bit of glue onto the back of a rhinestone and then place it right on top of the thread from where you sewed the flower onto the ribbon. This helps cover up the not so pretty thread in case the ribbon flips around backward (which it likely will) and to make it even harder for the threads to come out if your little one tries to pick things mine does.

Continue sewing flowers onto the ribbon, gluing the ribbon on, and then gluing on a rhinestone onto the back. Do this on the ends for the part to tie it on also.

View from the back

View from the front
Add rhinestones to the ribbon wherever you want. I added them on top of where the hanging ribbons were attached to the waist ribbon, and then halfway between using two different colors.

After looking at how far apart the ribbons that hang down ended up being I decided it needed more. So I cute more ribbons shorter than the first to go in between the other ones. I originally had 7 hanging down. I added 6 more with other flowers that were the same color scheme but a different type.

Close up of the flower from the front.

Close up of the flowers from the back.

I can't wait to give it to my little one with some new Fancy Nancy books to read!! I'll be happy for the variety! LOL
This would also make a fun party favor at a Fancy Nancy, princess, or dress up party. Maybe make the ribbons a little farther apart so it doesn't use as much. For this belt for my daughter, who wears about a 2T took roughly 4.5 yards of ribbon and 15 flowers!
You could also glue the flowers on instead of sew them on. But you would have to glue each layer on individually stacking them up and then put a rhinestone in the middle to cover up the hole instead of a bead. OR you could use puffy paint or puffy paint with glitter sprinkled on top. Any way about it, it would be cute and secure! Linked up here: